A few days ago I told you about my experience running the Rock’n’Roll St. Louis Half Marathon. Visiting the city has always been on my bucket list and I loved everything about being there! I found some fun activities in St. Louis.
First off, we stayed at the Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis at the Arch. The hotel is made up of three buildings on the National Register of Historical Places- The International Fur Exchange Building, The Thomas Jefferson Building, and The American Zinc Building, all of which sit on 4th Street between Market and Walnut in downtown St. Louis. The Drury Plaza Hotel sits directly in front of the famous Gateway Arch and is a mere 3 blocks from Busch Stadium- the iconic home of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.
My favorite part of the room was probably the super comfy king sized beds and the huge expansive windows. Our room was gorgeous with a beautiful view of downtown.
Every morning we ventured into the huge hotel lobby where the Drury Plaza served up a hot breakfast. Offerings include eggs, sausage, fresh fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes, bagels, juices, coffee and tea. Oh…and doughnuts. Fresh doughnuts. And…the hotel offers free popcorn and soda every afternoon as well as complimentary adult beverages and hot appetizers during happy hour.
Just the thing you give you energy to see the sites! So, what do you do in St. Louis to warrant a nice trip? Here’s five things to put on your agenda:
1. Visit The St. Louis Gateway Arch
I am stating the obvious here. This is what tourists do in St. Louis- take a ride to the top of the 630-ft. steel structure and look out the small windows of the observation deck.
I will tell you- the tram ride to the top is not for the faint of heart. Each tram consists of 8 pods- of which each seat six passengers. It’s tiny. And rocky in that you can feel the pod rocking from side to side as it ascends to the top.
The good news is that the Journey To The Top is only a quick 3-minute ride. The bad news is the observation deck is tiny- again , not for the faint of heart. The area is more of a curved hallway lined with small windows.
However, once you are and gather your bearings, the views are amazing.
And if you really brave, get real up close to a window, glance straight downward and you will be rewarded with a view of the arch shadow.
If you are too leery about going to the top, simply standing under the Arch is simply breathtaking. I definitely got some neat pictures just underneath it.
(tip: book your visit to the top online a few days in advance of your planned visit. During our visit, same day tickets were sold out and I am told if you are able to snag tickets at the last minute the lines are incredibly long. Booking in advance online will allow you a designated time to ride to the top and avoid the lines.)
2. Take a Riverboat Cruise on the Mississippi.
Perhaps one of the most famous rivers in the United States, the Mississippi basically cuts right through the middle of the country north to south. When we bought our Gateway Arch tickets, we also booked a one hour ride via an authentic riverboat. The three level riverboat- complete with a real back paddle will first cruise north offering great views of the Arch, the old-fashioned electric factory and the new Stan Musial cable bridge.
The riverboat then heads south, past the dock and under the MacArthur Railroad Bridge. The entire scenic cruise is narrated by your riverboat Captain. You will leave the boat with enough knowledge about St. Louis and its history to win you a trivia night at the local bar.
(tip: Get to the dock about 30 minutes early for your cruise so you can grab a seat on the very top level, the only deck that is in the open air.)
3. Take a stroll around Citygarden
Located about four blocks inland from the Arch is Citygarden, an urban park with lush vegetation and unique landscapes.
The just under 3-acre gardens also showcases twenty-four sculptures from the very interesting to the downright bizarre.
There are also great views of both the Arch and the Old Courthouse. There is no admission for Citygarden.
4. Visit Union Station
Originally a passenger railroad depot for the city, the area has been renovated into a shopping and attractions area. Under the old railway canopy is a large entertainment complex with restaurants like Landry’s and the Hard Rock Café, a trapeze course, swan boats and shopping.
There is also a hotel that anchors the complex that houses the original Grand Hall. A quick stop into the hotel lobby and you will be inside of art. The hall consists of a giant archway decorated with art deco and gold-leaf mosaic and spotted with art decorated windows. Standing under the 65-foot tall archway, you can almost hear the faint sounds of the passenger trains from the Union Station’s heydays.
(tip: The best time to see the Grand Hall is during the week as it is a very popular place for weddings, banquets and private parties. During an event, staff discourages wandering tourists through the area. However, the entertainment area is in the back of the station and is never closed off.)
5. Take a tour of Busch Stadium
Busch Stadium has been an iconic landmark in St. Louis since the 1950’s when the city went from two major league baseball teams to just one. (The St. Louis Browns left Missouri to become the modern-day Baltimore Orioles). The St. Louis Cardinals have since seen three reincarnations of “Busch Stadium” – the current one has been around since 2006.
Behind the scene tours are offered daily year-round and the $12.00 price tag is worth one hour of your time. You will be escorted to the exclusive Champions Club room and suites, the radio broadcast booth and the home team dugout.
Don’t forget to stop and take in the view from home plate. I don’t know how anyone can strike a bat with views of the cityscape and the Arch in the background. I guess that’s why they make the big bucks.
(tip: Do not wear a rival teams’ jersey or colors while taking the tour, including but not exclusive to the Yankees, Royals and Cubs . You may end up upside in a trashcan somewhere behind the stadium- just saying.)
Bonus: Take an hour to do the free tour at the Inside the Economy Museum. Super interesting.
And yes- they give out free souvenirs of the money that gets made in this country.
And there’s tips for your trip to St. Louis. But don’t forget to stop and smell the pizza and most definitely indulge in Gooey Butter Cake.